I like to listen to Howard Stern on the radio in the morning when I’m in the car on my way to work. There are times when it’s gross and boring and I change the channel but more times than not, I find he is genuinely funny and the interviews interesting. There are many times over the years when I have laughed out loud.
Last week, his Senior Vice President Tim Sabean came into the studio to make his ‘state of the station’ address. Tim is really the station manager and since it is Howard’s show and Howard likes to take up most of the air time, it was interesting to hear him provide Tim a platform to promote the station and its offerings.
Howard had written a blog post the previous week that contained the core values of the station. As he heard Tim go a bit off track, he asked him if he had read about the core values.
Tim replied that he had. So Howard asked him what they were.
My ears perked up. The number of CEO’s who have written core values and assume that their executives have read and retained them, when they actually haven’t, are too numerous to mention. When I have asked how they truly know what their employees know and retain, I usually get blank looks. So hearing Howard ask for proof of retention delighted me. This was right up my alley.
Tim responded with “I know them.”
So Howard pressed him to tell him one core value. Tim replied ‘To do good.”
Predictably, Howard was incensed that his Executive Vice President would not know the company’s core values, and worse, profess to know them when it was clear that he didn’t. This makes for great radio. Howard became incensed and hurt. He was angry that his Executive VP is not able to repeat the company core values and connect employees to the goals and objectives of the organization AND he was wounded (or sounded wounded anyway!) that no one has taken something he thinks is so critical seriously or read the blog he had put some thought and effort into writing.
He screamed at Tim that not only should he read them; he should memorize them and be able to repeat them and teach them to the employees anytime, anywhere and to anyone.
Even better – he’s NOT WRONG. I was laughing the rest of the way to a training session in the southern part of the state, and I was also cheering on Howard Stern. Core values don’t mean a thing in a blog that people skim and don’t remember. Posted on the wall they are easily ‘unseen.’ Organizational core values are the principles that every employee at every level should have in the back of their minds as they work, interact with clients, customers, colleagues and vendors, and create innovative products and services.
Take this dare: Write down your company’s core values. Then compare what you have written down to what is actually written.
If you know them all by heart- let me know. I want to sing your praises.
If you don’t know what they are, commit them to memory. Ask others what they are and repeat them often. Do what you can to make them part of the organizational consciousness.
Not knowing your organization’s core values makes for funny radio, but it’s not funny.